Lifetime Milestone #5: COMPLETE!

DSC00650After 7 years, my novel’s first draft is complete! All 88,000 words and 147 single-spaced pages sit on my dining table, undeniable proof that my hard work has paid off.

Having a printed manuscript feels like the final confirmation that I am, indeed, a writer. At every family party for the past seven years, I’ve had to tell my cousins and aunts, “I’m still working on the novel. Um, yeah, the same one.” But now if they ask about it, Continue reading

Big-Picture Work for the Detail Oriented

DSC00642I’ve avoided it for a long time. A long long long time. But this week I finally knuckled down, put in the hours, and tracked the timeline of my entire book.

The novel’s grunt-work really didn’t deserve such epic procrastination, but somehow I kept pushing the novel forward instead of stopping and figuring it all out. No damage done, thankfully, but now that I’m on the other side of the process, I wonder what all the fuss was all about.

For those of you who feel like 85,000 words is difficult to keep track of, find hope here Continue reading

How Frozen’s logic defying story thaws hearts

elsa_bust_by_amesrobin-d7h7kpdFrozen created the most hype I’ve heard in a long, long time. Loosely based off of “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Anderson, Disney’s film went back to traditional fairytale roots while staying away from the cliché love story. Since I’m far from a dedicated moviegoer, I sat back and watched the excitement grow and grow. Finally, instead of going to the theaters, my husband and I bought it.

I settled into the couch cushions and pressed play, afraid that it would be over-rated. Surely it couldn’t be so laudable as I had heard. And just as expected, the first few scenes piqued some scrutiny: why does the random gnome want to keep Kristoff and Sven? Who does Kristoff belong with? Why does Anna have to forget? The story didn’t offer many explanations. Continue reading

Harry Potter and Rowling’s Story Soundscape

hogwarts_teach_us_something_please_by_albus119-d57sgo9Recently I discussed how learning styles match writing styles, and since then I’ve been more alert to writers’ use of the senses. As I read I ask myself, does the author linger with visuals, jump ahead into action, or take advantage of every sound? Which element is predominant? Inspired by Claire Saag’s guest post for StoryForge, I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

You know what I discovered? Sounds. Everywhere.

If you can, recall the scene where Harry first meets Hagrid. Boom, crash, smash! Sounds bring the chapter to life. When Rowling isn’t describing the howling wind or sizzling sausages, she plays her characters vocal chords like musical instruments. Continue reading

The Visual Writer’s Writing Day

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After publishing the last Friday Reflections post, I dove back into my novel. I settled into my study and shut the door on all other responsibilities. My Italian mask kept watch to deter distractions. Call me crazy, but I also went through the house and shut a few more doors for a clearer mental barrier between my novel and anything that threatened to press against the study door. Do you ever feel that connection between the physical and the mental? It’s a quirk as a visual and kinesthetic learner, I suppose.

Though my responsibilities eventually burst through the door, I was able to write 1.5k before they pulled me away. I settled in with my tea and sipped who knows how many cups of tea as I typed.  Maybe I go a little overboard with my tea, but I enjoy having some small, ritualistic break. I pour a new cup, stir in sugar and milk, and watch the steam rise.

DSC00511My novel is up to 72k and I’ll reach 80k by the end of the first draft. I wish I could say that I didn’t post on the blog last week because I was finishing my manuscript, but instead I was sick. Health returned around Good Friday, just in time for my writing group came over. Jen insisted that she be the first one to read my completed novel–no argument over here! She’s the most enthusiastic reader I’ve ever had. In order to get it to her decently soon, I’m aiming for these goals:

  • Outline last few scenes (done!)
  • Finish manuscript by May 1st (getting there!)
  • Get through two drafts by June 1st (Lord help!)

What goals do you have? If you’re stuck, what’s stopping you from charging through your story?

 

Friday Reflections – Tips on Fight Scenes and Characterization

Recently I’ve moved toward non-fiction side: writing articles, posting blogs, and editing everything. And I mean everything. This week I was even promoted to Lead Writer at StoryForge–which I’m really excited about. But as a result of all my freelance activity, my fiction is getting shoved in the corner. It’s time to pick up the pace. My novel is so very close to the finis. So, for some inspiration and instruction, here are some articles on scene work:

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I’m so happy with my new business cards! Freelancing is an adventure; however, I’ll dive into another world this afternoon and engage in an oceanic battle.

The Gospel of Combat: How Fight Scenes Feed your Story” – Chuck Sambuchino from Writer’s Digest introduces Marie Brennan’s book on fight scenes. Instead of writing for “pure spectacle,” let the fight create rich ground for character growth. Every person has a unique reaction to violence that reveals deeply psychological desires or inhibitions.  This advice is surprisingly timely for me, since I’m going to tackle a fight scene very very soon.

How do you create realistic feeling characters?” – Author Marivi Solvien answers an aspiring writer’s question on NaNoWriMo. To create rounded, relational characters, you need to draw on associations–observations of strangers, friends, family, even actors. Read her answer for more details.

I hope you have a restful weekend and a productive week! Got any plans in the making? Any goals to keep you chugging? 

Get Paid! The Anatomy of a Writer’s Paycheck

13483674021616Today I’m not just talking about the satisfaction of a job well done; I’m talking business. Rates, skills, and time.

Alongside my usual freelance work, I recently edited friends’ grad school portfolios and cover letters. I’m happy to help them out; I’m invested in their success and I want to support them however I can. But far too many people out there don’t realize the pecuniary worth of a writer. Continue reading

Friday Reflections: Write Your Heart Out

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Let’s start writing! …just give me a minute make some tea, okay?

Since I’ve been talking a lot about business and freelancing lately, I thought that today I should get back to my roots. Here are a few writing challenges to get you going:

2014 April PAD Challenge: FAQs (and Tips)” – Though we’re a few days late with this peom-a-day challenge, Robert Lee Brewer from Writer’s Digest encourages writers to try their hand at a few stanzas. The challenge can teach you a lot about the art and discipline of writing, so you might as well sneak a look and take a shot! Continue reading

How do you feel about Mr. Oxford Comma?

 

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Our Dapper Oxie

I settle back on a red leather chaise and self-consciously adjust my glasses. The shrink sits across from me, hunched over the clip board that rests on his knees. His loafers press together, like the dot to his question mark. After a little hemming and hawing, he finally looks up and asks:

“How do you feel about this old friend you’ve told me about? This Oxford Comma?”

I knew the question was coming, but I panic a little anyway. To control my nerves, I pull my glasses off and clutch them, pressing my hands against my stomach. I consider how much he looks like a question mark, now that his form has blobbed into an indistinct curve. Continue reading

The Key to Finding a Writer’s Strengths – What’s Your Learning Style?

DSC00302I have been asking my writing friends all week: what is your learning style? Some say they are distinctly kinesthetic. They hoard memories creating their own sign language to accompany a poem. Or they are auditory, and learn best by listening to lectures.

Personally, I am very visual. I remember names best after seeing them spelled out. In my university classes, I was a notorious doodler. I live my life in accumulated moments and my understanding of history is grounded in webbed associations between art, books, and stiff portraits of important figures.

Your learning style affects your writing style. Continue reading